Obviously if you’re buying an RV you’re imagining the dishes and linens you’ll put in it and all that fun stuff that goes along with having your little home on wheels. There are a lot of things that either don’t come with an RV, or that come less than adequate from the manufacturer, that you may not realize you even need. Here are a few essentials for every first time RV owner for you to consider. Some are essential in the fact that you must have them and some are essential in the fact that they will make RV life a lot easier!
The black tank is the least fun part of owning an RV so let’s tackle this part first. If you haven’t already figured it out, the black tank is the sewer tank. Taking care of this tank will ensure less odors and less mess in the long run.
Before you even use this tank you want to invest in two items up front. The first is RV safe toilet paper. Regular toilet paper doesn’t break down in the tank and will cause serious clogs. You don’t want to deal with that so get the RV safe kind to save you the headache later. Next you want to get a cleaner/deodorizer to put down in there. Get an enzyme based solution as the enzymes in it will help break down the solid waste making the tank easier to empty and clean later.
You need to empty it obviously but you also need to keep it clean. Before emptying or cleaning, make sure you get gloves to protect your hands. You want to keep all that bacteria and germs off your skin. Invest in high quality disposable gloves that aren’t going to rip and leave you with a mess on your hands, literally. In order to empty the black tank, you hook your sewer hose up to the RV and then put it into the connection at the dump-site. The hose that comes from the manufacturer is rarely long enough so you will want to get yourself a longer sewer hose. This way even if your parking situation in proximity to the connections is less than desirable, you can still empty your tank. You will also want to get what they call rubber donut that will help create a seal around the connections. Not only does this help protect you from leaks, it’s sometimes a rule of the campsite or dump station.
One thing that can come in very handy for dumping is a portable sewer tote. This may seem strange but it is actually well worth the investment for some, depending on the type of camping you’re doing. If you’re going to be somewhere for a decent amount of time where you don’t have sewer hookups right on site, you will want an alternate way to dump. You won’t want to get your rig all level and in the perfect spot to have to move it again just to dump the tank, and then come back and set it up again. A portable tank will allow you to first dump the waste into the tank, and then wheel it to where you need to go. For some this may be a short distance through a campground to a dump station or for some who may be boondocking, it may be a few miles down the road. You can either pull it with the handle if it’s a short distance or load it up in the truck bed and take it to dump it.
You will want to clean out your black tank regularly to keep things from getting built up in there. As you dump the tank things will stick to the side and stay in there so you need to actually wash it out. The first thing you’re going to need is a standard garden hose. Get any color other than white because as you will find out a white hose is supposed to mean drinking water and you don’t want to mix this one up with your drinking water hose. This is going to allow you to flush water into the tank from outside the RV to clean it out! How do you know when it’s clean? This may seem gross but you will want to get a clear elbow that will connect to the hose and allow you to see when the water runs clear. If you cannot see what is coming out you won’t know when it’s coming out clean.
Fresh Water System
You fresh water system can be used by either filling up the tank or connecting a hose to the intake valve and using it like a standard water hook up. Either way, here again you may sometimes find that the length of the standard hose is insufficient. Adding a longer drinking water hose will help you to ensure you can connect your water intake to the source no matter what the parking situation is. Make sure you get a white one so you can differentiate your drinking water hose from any other.
Two things you can never be 100% sure of when hooking up your fresh water system at a campground or anywhere else are the quality of the water as well as the pressure. Some of the water can be less than desirable especially if it’s well water. Attaching a water filter before the water makes it into the RV helps not only to improve the potability but will help keep hard minerals out of your system which can build up and cause problems later. Now, even if this water is crystal clear and clean, the pressure can represent another problem. Some places will have too high of a pressure for the RV pipes to handle and can cause leaks or bursting. Adding a pressure regulator will help save your system from forceful water flow.
When you get to your site you’re going to need to level your RV. Some have auto-leveling systems and some don’t. Either way, you want to get some tools to help you ensure that your rig is level. You never know when things may malfunction or maybe Jr. was supposed to charge the batteries and forgot and now your electrical leveling system has not juice. The first thing to get is a bubble level. You simply place it on the floor inside the RV and then check the bubble position as you adjust the RV. You’re also going to want to get some wooden blocks and a decent amount of them. You can use these to level the tires of the RV but also place them under the jacks, in the event the ground is soft, to keep them from digging and sinking into the ground.
Electricity is needed to run a lot of things in your RV so you want to ensure you’re ready for any situation. Different parks will have different hookups and you want to make sure you know what kind you have first. Your RV is going to have either a 30 or 50 amp hookup and the campsites will typically have either 30 or even 15 amp plugs! If you have a 50 amp RV you will want a 50 to 15 adapter as well as a 50 to 30 amp adapter. This way it won’t matter how far down they go. If you have 30 amp you will want to get a 30 to 15 amp adapter and 30 to 50 amp adapter. You will also want to get a power cord extension to ensure you can reach the plug, whatever kind it is. We’ve already established that campsite hookups can be unreliable so you’re also going to want to take some precautions to protect your electrical system. Adding a surge protector to your power cord will help ensure you don’t fry anything or blow breakers all the time.
Most RVs will not come with the deep cycle battery needed to power the generator or the RV itself when you’re off the grid. Getting two of these batteries will help ensure you have one that has a charge while the other is charging.
Keeping the outside of your RV in ship shape helps especially when it comes to your slides. The slides have seals that go around them that are made of rubber. Heat and oxidation over time can wear them out so there’s some maintenance you’ll want to perform on them. Getting a slide out seal conditioner will help keep them in a like new condition so you can maintain your temperature inside and keep the bugs and other pests outside. While you’re thinking about keeping things outside, you may benefit from an awning mat. Even if you don’t have an awning the mat will go by the steps outside for you to wipe your feet on before going inside the RV. This helps keep all the dirt off the floor. Next you want to think higher. Get vent covers that will allow you to open the vents for fresh air but keep rain out!
If you have a toy hauler, or anything else you may have brought with you like a golf cart, get toy locks for them. It’s unfortunate but theft does happen at the campsite so protect yourself. You may even want to put a lock on your hitch especially if you’re in an area where it may be easy for someone to hitch up your rig and pull away without anyone noticing.
To keep your entire family and others’ on the road safe, get a tire monitoring system. You won’t feel issues with your RV tires as well as you can with your vehicle so you want something that can alert you if something is going on. Low tire pressure can cause a lot more issues than you think beginning with lower gas mileage and can lead up to a blow out which may cause a roll over and/or a fire.
These essentials for every first time RV owner will make life on the road a lot more enjoyable even when you’re working on dirty jobs like cleaning the black tank. Equipping your RV goes a lot further than just the dishes so make sure you have everything you need in order to function at the campground as well as if you plan to go boondocking.